Now lets review a little history about the coming forth of the vision (testimony) which is contained in section 76
When section 76 was first published it created a huge contention in the church because many members of the church initially rejected it.
Particularly some of the more doctrinally astute members of the restored church could not wrap their minds around it and reconcile it with what they thought the holy bible taught.
Joseph Smith fully understood that section 76 and many other sections of modern revelation were meant to become more relevant and applicable once the WORK had been ESTABLISHED and faith increased during a future time in the 3rd watch.
He understood that the RESTORATION of the fullness of the Gospel would be a future event and that much of the content in modern revelation would not be fully understood by the Saints until the Marvelous Work began.
Note the counsel of Joseph Smith to the missionaries.
“The same evening, while I was engaged in giving some special instructions to Elders Kimball and Hyde, and President Joseph Fielding, concerning their mission to England, President Brigham Young came into my house, where we were sitting, accompanied by Dr. Willard Richards, who had just returned from a special business mission to New York, Boston, and other Eastern cities, on which he started with President Young the 14th March:
Dr. Richards having been ordained an Elder on the 6th of March, and President Young having returned from the mission a few days previous. My instructions to the brethren were, when they arrived in England, to adhere closely to the first principles of the Gospel, and remain silent concerning the gathering, the vision, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, until such time as the work was fully ESTABLISHED, and it should clearly be made manifest by the Spirit, &c.” hc Hc v 2 492
As you can see, Joseph Smith clearly understood that the time for investigators (and even many of the Saints) to fully understand and comprehend the TESTIMONY contained in the VISION as well as many other revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants had not yet come.
The WORK needed to be ESTABLISHED first.
Here is what Webster says about establish
ESTAB’LISH, v.t. [L. stabilio; Heb. to set, fix, establish.]
1. To set and fix firmly or unalterably; to settle permanently.
I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant. Gen.17.
After the foundation of the Marvelous Work was laid in the 2nd watch, the MARVELOUS WORK was to be ushered in at a future time.
In the 3rd watch, the work was to be ESTABLISHED.. PERMANENTLY.
You might think that it is a little strange that Joseph Smith did not think the WORK had been ESTABLISHED by the time that foreign missionaries were being sent to England in about 1838.
After all, the Aaronic, Patriarchal and Melchizedek priesthoods had all been restored to the earth, the church had been restored, the law of the gospel had been given, the keys of administering the saving ordinances of the new and everlasting covenant had been restored and the keys of the kingdom had been given to the Saints..
…and yet the WORK had not been fully ESTABLISHED?
What WORK had not been established permanently?
A cryptic statement by the Lord in section one foretold that the EVERLASTING COVENANT would need to be ESTABLISHED AGAIN at a later time because it had not be established permanently during the 2nd watch.
Section one had prophesied that the Saints were going to stray from the everlasting covenant, (verses 12- 15) but it also prophesied that at a future time after a worldwide calamity takes place the everlasting covenant would be restored and ESTABLISHED-
17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
22 That mine everlasting covenant might be ESTABLISHED;
23 That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.
As you can see, the EVERLASTING COVENANT would need to be ESTABLISHED AGAIN in the third watch when the weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones.
The Lord had told the Saints that got pushed out of Jackson County that at a future time, after their tribulation, they would return and ESTABLISH Zion
“For after much tribulation, as I have said unto you in a former commandment, cometh the blessing.
Behold, this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren—your redemption, and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established, no more to be thrown down.” D&C 103: 13, 35
If you do a key word search on the word ESTABLISH, you will find that in modern revelation it primarily has to do with the ESTABLISHMENT of ZION and the EVERLASTING COVENANT.
6 Now, as you have asked, behold, I say unto you, keep my commandments, and seek to bring forth and ESTABLISH the cause of Zion.
7 Behold, I speak unto you, and also to all those who have desires to bring forth and ESTABLISH this work;
D&C 12: 6-7
Realizing that the work would not be established during the dark times that the Saints were living in, Joseph Smith warned them to not even mention section 76 and the D&C to investigators when he sent the elders on foreign missions.
Here is a prophecy found in modern revelation that corresponds with the testimony that Isaiah was prophesying about-
77 And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
78 Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;
79 Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—
80 That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.
81 Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.
82 Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads.
83 He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken.
84 Therefore, tarry ye, and labor diligently, that you may be perfected in your ministry to go forth among the Gentiles for the last time, as many as the mouth of the Lord shall name, to bind up the law and seal up the testimony, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come;
85 That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the desolation of abomination which awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the world to come. Verily, I say unto you, let those who are not the first elders continue in the vineyard until the mouth of the Lord shall call them, for their time is not yet come; their garments are not clean from the blood of this generation.
There you have it.
Just a few years later, after Joseph and Oliver did bring to light the existing ministry of Sidney Rigdon, Joseph and Sidney did in fact provide the TESTIMONY to their generation and ours!
The above revelation was given shortly thereafter and it prophesies that God will SEND JOSEPH AND SIDNEY AND OTHERS AGAIN in their second commission in the 3rd watch, to magnify their calling and to seal up the TESTIMONY that they had previously given during their first commission in the 2nd watch.
The amazing final event was mentioned again in the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple-
45 We know that thou hast spoken by the mouth of thy prophets terrible things concerning the wicked, in the last days—that thou wilt pour out thy judgments, without measure;
46 Therefore, O Lord, deliver thy people from the calamity of the wicked; enable thy servants to seal up the law, and bind up the testimony, that they may be prepared against the day of burning. D&C 109: 46
It appears that the final sealing of the testimony given in section 76 does not take place until the NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT IS FINALLY ESTABLISHED FOR THE LAST TIME, IN THE FINAL WATCH WHEN ZION IS FINALLY ESTABLISHED… at the time when a great calamity is about to take place..
But getting back to the historical aspect of section 76… It is interesting to note that some of the missionaries did not heed the counsel of the prophet and they lost converts because they allowed them to read the contents of section 76.
You see, the world was not yet ready to comprehend and accept the testimony contained in section 76.
It would take decades before many members of the restored church would begin to feel comfortable with the contents of section 76… and the Christian world has totally rejected the testimony in section 76.
It is considered by most to be a total and complete fraud and a contradiction of the simple, heaven or hell depiction of the judgment and after life that most people interpret the Bible to be speaking about.
Here is an interesting example from dairies of the early foreign missionaries that demonstrates just how disastrous it was back in that time to use section 76 in missionary work-
“The Elders at Bedfore continued to lecture in the basement of Mr. Matthews’ chapel from evening to evening, with the most flattering prospects until this evening, when Elder Goodson, contrary to the most positive instructions of President Kimball, and without advising with any one, read publicly the vision from the Doctrine and Covenants, which turned the current of feeling generally, and nearly closed the door in all that region. Mr. Matthews wished the meetings to be removed from his house, but continued to attend the meetings occasionally and investigated the subject to considerable extent.” V2 505
Additional information on the event is contained below-
“A minister by the name of Timothy R. Matthews, a brother-in-law to Joseph Fielding, received them very kindly, and invited them to preach in his church, which was accepted, and in it they preached several times, when a number, amongst whom were Mr. Matthews and his lady, believed their testimony, and the truths which they proclaimed. Mr. Matthews had likewise borne testimony to his congregation of the truth of these things, and that they were the same principles that were taught by the Apostles anciently; and besought his congregation to receive the same. Forty of his members went forward and were baptized, and the time was appointed when he was to be baptized. In the interval, however, Brother Goodson, contrary to my counsel and positive instructions, and without advising with any one, read to Mr. Matthews the vision seen by President Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, which caused him to stumble, and darkness pervaded his mind ; so much so, that at the time specified he did not make his appearance, but went and baptized himself in the river Ouse; and from that time he began to preach baptism for the remission of sins. He wrote to Rev. James Fielding saying that his best members had left him.” (Heber C Kimball Journal 94c pg 66 )
The problem posed by the content of section 76 was not limited to missionary work. Members of the church really struggled with it as well.
Joseph Smith had so much more revealed to him during that vision but he could not share it with the Saints. He once said-
“I could explain a hundred fold more than I ever have of the glories of the kingdoms manifested to me in the vision, were I permitted, and were the people prepared to receive them.” HC vol 5 402
“There has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger [a piece of corn bread] for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle [a wooden mallet]. Even the Saints are slow to understand.
“I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen”
God was not allowing Joseph Smith to elaborate any further on what he and Rigdon had seen during their vision. He understood that the Saints were not ready to receive the deeper mysteries of the kingdom.
What does all of this have to do with the sealing up of the testimony when the servants return?
Well, the time must come when there will be a repentant group of elect Saints who will finally accept the TESTIMONY and receive their own… and the plan of salvation appears to be an integral part of the TESTIMONY.
This needs to happen so that the works can finally be established in the 3rd watch.
Now then, for any Non-Mormon Bible Scholars that might have found their way to this post, if you have rejected the plan of salvation contained in section 76 it is understandable… after all, it appears that it contradicts the Bible, right?
In the next post I am going to invite you to have a little Bible study session with me. I will show you that the plan of salvation and the four categories of souls described in section 76 had already been taught in the New Testament, by John the Revelator.
So keep watching.